Our Planet

Orange and lemon groves as well as the residence of the citrus pioneer William Wolfskill, c. 1882. 

The Bug That Saved California

The Golden State’s citrus industry faced a lethal threat. The solution would herald a new kind of pest control

Robert Leverett walks through the old-growth forests in Mohawk Trail State Forest.

Old, Primeval Forests May Be a Powerful Tool to Fight Climate Change

Ecologists thought these trees had long been torn down in New England. Then Bob Leverett proved them wrong

(Top) Leila Strickland, Michelle Egger, Toby Kiers, Colin Averill, J. Richard Gott (Middle) Leslie Jones-Dove, Devshi Mehrotra, Prisha Shroff, Iké Udé (Bottom) Tim Farrelly, Omar Salem, David Deneher, Victor A. Lopez-Carmen, Doris Sung

Innovation for Good

Sixteen Innovators to Watch in 2022

These trailblazers are dreaming up a future with cell-cultured breastmilk, energy-saving windows and more

Harvard University professor E.O. Wilson in his office in Cambridge, MA. He is considered to be the world's leading authority on the study of ants.

Remembering E.O. Wilson's Wish for a More Sustainable Existence

From a lifelong passion for ants, E.O. Wilson guided humanity to think of conservation

From amazing firsts on Mars to the impacts of climate change on Earth, these science stories stood out as the most important of 2021

The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2021

Thrilling discoveries, hurdles in the fight against Covid and advancements in space exploration defined the past year

A growing body of work shows that marine animals are attracted to the sounds of healthy environments.

Playing Recordings of a Healthy Ocean Can Help Restore Marine Ecosystems

Scientists are using a 'fake it til you make it' approach to attract animals to coral reefs and other degraded habitats

Jeffrey Peter, of Old Crow, Yukon, cleans a caribou hide during an autumn hunt. When camping, the hide is used as a mattress; at home, it’s clothing.

For the Gwich'in People, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Isn't a Political Issue, It's Home

Journey to the far north of Alaska, where the Indigenous communities hunt caribou, the backbone of the region's ecosystem

Heavy rainfall in China this summer led to severe flooding—something more cities are dealing with as the warming climate affects the intensity and frequency of precipitation.

This New Tool Lets You See Floods From Around the World, Dating Back to 1985

An innovative interactive map could aid future disaster planning, especially for vulnerable countries in the developing world

LifeLab Design's WarmLife vests are 30 percent warmer than clothing of comparable weight and bulk.

Innovation for Good

This Apparel Company Wants to Have a Profound Effect on Your Energy Use

LifeLabs Design was founded by a pair of Stanford professors who have developed fabrics capable of cooling and warming the wearer

oastal darkening reduces the amount of light that penetrates into coastal waters with a range of consequences for local ecosystems and, potentially, the world.

How Coastal Darkening Is Harming Kelp Forests

The environmental threat that researchers are only beginning to study is dramatically reducing the productivity of the plant

Artists paint a mural near the Scottish Events Centre, which will be hosting the Climate Summit starting October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

Five Important Questions About COP26 Answered

Representatives from nearly 200 nations are expected to meet and report on climate change promises made in the Paris Agreement

A starlit night at Joshua Tree National Park.

What Does the Future Hold for the Joshua Tree?

The beloved desert denizen is feeling the heat

Plastic debris covers much of the sand on Henderson Island.

Plastics Make Beaches Hotter During the Day and Colder at Night

A study of remote islands shows that debris alters sand temperatures

Three giant rocks—Tokia, Rebua, and Kamatoa—sit in the ocean south of Makin Island in the Republic of Kiribati.

How Indigenous Stories Helped Scientists Understand the Origin of Three Huge Boulders

Legends spurred researchers to form a theory about Makin Island's distinctively out-of-place rocks

A diver swims over a bleached section of the Great Barrier Reef near Heron Island.

The Planet Has Lost Half of Its Coral Reefs Since 1950

A new study finds dramatic declines in coral reef cover, biodiversity and fish abundance

Natural disasters do not destroy buildings evenly. By studying which fall and which are left standing, engineers can develop new strategies for the future.

When a Natural Disaster Hits, Structural Engineers Learn From the Destruction

StEER engineers assess why some buildings survive hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and why others do not

Can a machine be taught to understand the plant world?

Innovation for Good

Is This Weed-Spotting, Yield-Predicting Rover the Future of Farming?

The robot, developed by Alphabet Inc.'s X, will make its public debut at the Smithsonian

A thermal image shows a parrot releasing heat through its beak and talons. Researchers have found that since 1871 some parrots have increased their beak area up to 10 percent.

Animals Are Changing Shape to Cope With Rising Temperatures

Birds, bats, rabbits, mice and other creatures are growing bigger body parts to cool themselves off

In this long exposure picture, trees burn on a hillside behind Honey Lake campground during the Dixie Fire on August 18, 2021 in Milford, California. The wildfire in Northern California continues to grow, burning over 626,000 acres according to CalFire.

Innovation for Good

From Supercomputers to Fire-Starting Drones, These Tools Help Fight Wildfires

As climate change worsens wildfires in the West, agencies are tapping into new technologies to keep up with the flames

Many terrestrial birds disappeared in Barro Colorado Island, in the Panama Canal, despite their abundance in adjacent mainland forests, because they could not cross Gatun Lake to maintain populations on the island.

Smithsonian Voices

Despite a Century of Protection, This Island Suffers Critical Loss in Biodiversity

The Barro Colorado bird community has lost about a quarter of its species over time

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